“In this ghostly follow-up, Sidra Smart battles an unknown enemy who will do anything to get his hands on a centuries-old document worth millions and the guy takes a ruthless view on interference. The closer Sidra gets to the enemy, the closer Slider, her half-paranoid, half Chesapeake Bay retriever gets to demons from his own past.
Barnes & Noble.com
Sylvia Dickey Smith
Newly licensed private investigator Sidra Smart reluctantly takes on the pro-bono case of Boo Murphy, a poor, countrified woman accused of murder. When Boo tells her tale of stumbling on the Hotspur, half-buried in a Texas swamp, everyone is convinced she’s found treasure worth millions. As Sidra searches for both the schooner and evidence to clear her client, she battles an unknown enemy, and soon discovers they know their business much better than she knows hers. After several close calls, not only does Sid question her own abilities, she discovers her trusted mentor George Léger is involved in illegal activities that threatens not only their friendship, but also their lives. Even Slider, her half-paranoid, half Chesapeake Bay retriever battles demons from his past as the investigation takes Sidra back to familiar small town territory. Complicated family histories dating back centuries and feuding family relationships muddy the clues and the truth seems as elusive as the spectral schooner. When all seems lost, eighteenth century spirits of infamous Jean Lafitte and voluptuous, swashbuckling pirate-queen Mary Anne Radcliff show up to offer Sid assistance.
The truck backfired and skipped down the road, forcing Sid to glance in the rearview mirror. Just as she suspected, dark smoke billowed out behind them.
“Okay, catch me up,” she said, hoping to get the ride over quickly.
“Here’s what I know.” Durwood stared straight ahead, his blue, watery eyes focused on the road. “Boo went squirrel hunting out in the swamp just like she always does, but this time she found a pirate ship stuck up out of the water. The next day, she took Sasha out to see it.”
“A pirate ship? Who’s Sasha?”
“Boo’s second cousin, twice removed. She’s going crazy thinking folks believe she killed him.”
“No, dang it. Not Sasha—Boo. Keep up, Sid.”
“Believe me, I’m trying to. You need to slow down, Durwood. I can’t make sense of what you’re saying.”
“Best I can tell, she came home and told Sasha—”
“Her second cousin, twice removed,” Sid said, suppressing a grin.
Durwood nodded again, seemingly pleased that she was catching up. “Sasha went into hysterics, bellowing about how
Boo killed Zeke.”
“Whoa, whoa.” Sid’s head swam. “Who’s Zeke?
“Sasha’s husband, or was—till yesterday.”
No wonder she couldn’t keep up, she first had to translate the man’s language. For he put an I in yesterday and took out the R and the A—as in yistedy.
“Okay, okay, I get the picture. A man is dead, and Boo thinks she’ll be arrested for the murder.”
“And if she’s arrested, she’s gonna plead guilty. Only thing is, she ain’t killed nobody, Sid. That’s what I’m trying to tell you.” Agitation
took his eyes off the road just as a mangy cur dog claimed his pedestrian rights. Sid yelped and threw on her own brakes,fearful her feet might go through the rusted-out floorboard. The
floor held, although her brakes didn’t. Durwood didn’t touch his.
He simply swerved, tossing Sid against the door, while the dog ignored them and continued his saunter across the street. Durwood turned off on a winding dirt road that eventually led to the river. Water tupelo, cypress, and pine trees stood tall and resolute between two unpainted houses. A wide, hardpacked
dirt yard separated the two. Each house, catty-corner to the other, sat on concrete blocks, while rough-hewn steps led up to their front porches. Odds and ends of junk lay in big piles under a shed between and underneath the houses.
“She knows you’re coming.” Durwood reached across Sid—smelling like he’d spent the night in a tobacco barn—and yanked the handle until the door opened.
“She knows? Is she psychic or something?”
“I told her I was bringing you back here with me.”
“Pretty sure of yourself, weren’t you?”
“Sure about you,” he said, his grin showing off brown-stained teeth.
Just as they got out and closed the doors, an elderly woman with wiry gray hair, rounded shoulders and sun-leathered face,stepped out the screen door and started yelling and raising a fist in the air.
“Dadgum it, Durwood, I told you not to bring that woman here. Don’t think just ’cause you did, you’re gonna get in my
Durwood looked at Sid with a big grin on his face. “Ain’t she cute?” Then he turned back to the big-fisted woman.
“Now Boo, I told you that ain’t what I’m after. I’m just trying to help.”
“Then why’d you bring that Myra whore by here last week if you ain’t wanting her to teach me the tricks of her trade?”
“Good lord, Boo, that ain’t why me and Myra came to see you. She’s my friend. I just wanted you two to meet. People judge her for what she does for a living, but she’s just as human as you
“Friend, huh? Well, I hear tell she’s got lots of friends and they’re all men.”
By now Durwood had taken Sid’s elbow and led her up the front steps—or maybe pulled would be more like it.
“This here Ms. Smart is a dang good detective, and she can help find out who killed Zeke.”
“Meddling old fool,” Boo mumbled.
“Well, now that you’re here you might as well come on in and sit a spell.”
Boo opened the door wide and gave Sid the onceover as she passed through the
doorway. The room’s furnishings were simple. Ancestral photos sat on table tops and a sideboard, while the wall held faded pictures of pirate ships—schooners of various models. Sid headed
to a straight-backed chair and sat.
“One thing I can tell you for sure,” Boo said to Sid, stationing her own chair as far away from Durwood as possible and still be in the same room with him. “I ain’t killed Zeke. I didn’t like him none, but so what? I only know two people in the whole world
that did like him, and that was his mama and God. Course they ain’t got much choice.” Boo chuckled at her own joke, and then the laughter turned to tears. She covered her face with her hands and her shoulders shook.
Sid felt like a giant tsunami sucked her toward Boo. “Excuse me, ma’am, but Durwood said you’d seen a ship out in the swamp. Are you up to talking about it?”
The veil of misery that had filled the old woman’s eyes dropped away. In its place, diamond beams of delight glistened out, transforming her from a tired, grief-stricken old woman into a young girl sparked with the excitement offered by a pirate ship. Her voice
bubbled over like that of a small child.
“I never seen nothing the likes of before in my life..."